Posts Tagged With: basecamp shelters

My Top 4 Most Useful Basecamp Builds

by Todd Walker

My Top 4 Most Useful Basecamp Builds ~

One of the hallmarks of the veteran woodsman is the way he contrives to make himself comfortable in camp.  ~ Warren H. Miller, 1915

Over years of wild camping I’ve learned just how little one needs to be happy in the woods. But a permanent campsite… oh the comforts to be contrived!

Walking through the beech trees and white oaks, I hop rocks across the creek. Then it happens. My soul smiles with every arrival at base camp. My home away from home is a laboratory for adventure and self-reliance skills. More importantly, it’s my place of comfort in the woods!

A few items I find essential for comfort are listed below…

Top Base Camp Comforts

1.) Shelter

Instead of pitching a tent or hanging a hammock, a semi-permanent shelter was needed. Constructed from natural materials (except for the repurposed billboard roof and bank line), it’s large enough to sleep in with room for storage. At both ends of my raised canvas cot, there’s ample room for laying in a good supply of firewood, tools, and gear.

My Top 5 Most Useful Items at Permanent Camp ~

The foot of my raised canvas cot

Speaking of firewood…

2.) Sawbuck

Using a plumber’s vise is effective for sawing wrist-size saplings in the field. My daddy taught me this technique when cutting pipe in his plumbing business. For right-handers, place the stick of wood in the bend of your left knee. Kneel on your right knee so the stock rests on your right thigh. This posture holds the wood in place firmly freeing both hands for sawing to the side of your body.

However, when processing larger rounds, a sturdy base camp sawbuck is indispensable.

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope -

Sawing firewood on this camp sawbuck

Here’s an interesting factoid about why the ten-dollar bill became known as a “sawbuck” in slang terminology. The Roman numeral for 10 being “X”, this reminded old timers of the two X’s used at the ends of saw horses.

3.) Camp Kitchen

“A fellow who cannot throw a flapjack is sadly lacking in the skill one expects to find in a real woodcrafter.” ~ Daniel Carter Beard

A seasoned woods cook will have an open fire lit in short order. Flapjack batter turns golden brown as the smell of freshly brewed coffee and salt cured bacon mingle.

Campfire Cooking: Grill, Cook, and Bake on a Multi-level Fire Pit -

Time to eat!

The plywood camp house situated near the dam of our family lake is long gone. The memories and the aroma of Uncle Otha cooking over an open fire with heirloom cast iron is as vivid today as they were 45 years ago. Truer words can not be found than in one of Mr. Kephart’s quotes, “A good cook makes a contented crew.”

A permanent camp kitchen, like modern ovens and ranges at home, becomes the center piece of camp life. The cooking fire is that hub. I personally find a raised horizontal surface indispensable. My camp countertop, a split cedar log resting on two cedar rails lashed between trees, keeps cooking utensils and ingredients off the ground.

My Top 5 Most Useful Items at Permanent Camp ~

Cooking rice, grilling steak, and baking muffins on one campfire

A few carved pot hooks hung from a horizontal sapling (waugan) allows heat regulation when cooking coffee or simmering stew over an open fire. A solid tripod is another option for hanging pots over a fire.

4.) Paring Ladder

This simple device adds a “third hand” when using a draw knife to shape wood or remove bark.

How to Build a Paring Ladder (Shaving Horse) in the Woods -

The paring ladder in action

While I use it for its intended purpose, it also makes a fine camp chair. Secure a wool blanket or cargo net to a rung and loop the blanket around another pole near the bottom for lounging.

My Top 5 Most Useful Items at Permanent Camp ~

Camp comfort!

It also makes a great drying rack for wet gear and clothing. The ladder is lightweight and easy to move from one tree to the next.

The beauty of building these camp comforts is that few tools are required. A knife, ax/hatchet, saw, and cordage are about all you’ll need to contrive ways to make yourself comfortable in the woods.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Real Food, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

27 Basecamp Projects Guaranteed to Elevate Skills and Fun in the Woods

By Todd Walker

The thought of going to the woods for rest and relaxation is a foreign concept to most moderns. Others see it as an oasis. The later enjoy the simplicity of woods life for many reasons. Through experience, they’ve learned to be healthy, comfortable, and relaxed in the woods.

27 Basecamp Projects Guaranteed to Elevate Skills and Fun in the Woods -

Learning the art of “smoothin’ it” in the woods, as Nessmuk called it, is well within reach for even my novice middle school students. If you really want to learn how to camp in comfort, check out The Revival of Classic Camping.

If your camp is an oasis in the woods, you’re more likely to find the unplugged benefits of nature. Not only that, but you’ll gain valuable self-reliance skills in the process.

Below you’ll find 27 projects and skills developed while turning my basecamp into a comfortable personal space in the woods.


The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Overhang catches and rolls heat into the shelter

We’ve discussed the importance of emergency shelter here, here, and here. However, a basecamp shelter should be semi-permanent and built for comfort.

My grandson and I hanging out at basecamp

My grandson and me hanging out at basecamp

My shelter design takes advantage of the properties of radiant heat from a fire one step away from the opening. The heat enters under the two foot lip overhang and circulates through the entire structure. This action makes the shelter more efficient than a simple lean-to.

Skills Learned

  • Ax-Manship ~> The ax is the oldest and most under-appreciated, yet invaluable tool which serves, not only as a wilderness lifeline, but, as a simple machine that connects your hands to a forgotten craft.
  • Campsite Selection ~> Consider the 4 W’s.  You need wood… lots of wood… for shelter construction and fire. Standing dead red cedar and a few other saplings were used for my shelter.
  • Knots/Lashing ~> Square, tripod, and diagonal lashing hold my shelter together. Timber hitch, clove hitch, trucker’s hitch, and other useful knots were also used.
  • Simple Machines ~> Here are my top 3 simple machines for shelter construction: Wedges (cutting tools), lever, and pulley.

Camp Tools

In this category, you’ll find ideas to make camp life enjoyable.

  • Saw Buck ~> This tool may be the most used of all the stuff at my camp. The obvious use is for bucking firewood. Max, my grandson, prefers this as a camp chair.

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope -

  • Camp Maul ~> You’ll use ax and knife skills to craft this woodsman hammer. Watch our video here.
  • Shaving Ladder ~> My newest addition to basecamp. Wish I had discovered this long ago!
  • Takedown Buck Saw ~> A good bucksaw makes life easier when processing wood on my saw buck.
  • Cooking Tripod ~> A sturdy tripod is a multifunctional piece for every camp.
  • Stump Vise ~> A round section of wood used to hold stuff while working with both hands.

Camp Skills

  • Sleep ~> The #1 hallmark of a good woodsman.
  • Fire ~> My favorite skill to practice. You’ll find many articles on fire craft on this page.
  • Cooking ~> Nothing beats the smell and taste of a pan of dry cured bacon sizzling over an open fire. Basecamp cooking affords you the luxury of not eating from freeze-dried bag food. Check out my buddy’s YouTube channel, Feral Woodcraft, for more camp cooking tips. Bring your appetite!
6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking -

Dry cured bacon and dehydrated eggs… not your typical trail breakfast

Camp Crafts

Now that you’ve got tools made and a belly full of camp cooking, it’s time to make some fun stuff!

  • Tree Bark Arrow Quiver ~> Tulip Poplar (Magnolia) bark has been used by indigenous people and traditional craftsmen in Appalachia for thousands of years.
  • Primitive Pottery ~> Not my best skill by far, but making your own containers from clay gives you options.
  • Pitch Sticks ~> This project turns pine sap and charcoal into glue.
A spoon I found growing in a Black Walnut limb on our land

A spoon I found growing in a Black Walnut limb on our land

  • Greenwood Spoon Carving ~> Employ your ax and knife skills to craft eating utensils for camp.
  • Burn and Scrape Containers ~> A primitive skill useful in making spoons, bowls, and even canoes. Watch our video on making a cup here.
  • Leather Ax Sheath ~> Make a hands-free ax carrying sheath for tramping and scouting from basecamp.
  • Ax Handle ~> While I didn’t make this hickory ax handle at basecamp, it’s doable with the above mentioned tools.
  • Plumber’s Stove ~> On rainy days, you need a way to cook in your semi-permanent shelter. It also adds enough heat to knock the chill off.
  • Fire Pit ~> Wooden reflector walls are popular for bushcraft shelters. However, stone is better at retaining heat from your fire. Lay rocks to form a chimney effect to draw air for clean burns.
The large rock in the back acts as a chimney

The large rock in the back acts as a chimney

  • Frog Gig ~> A sapling and knife skills can have you eating in no time.
  • Camp Table ~> Every camp needs a horizontal surface (table).
Red cedar planks lashed a top two poles between trees

Red cedar planks lashed a top two poles between trees

  • Roycraft Pack Frame ~> A fun project to do with kids.
  • Build Community ~> Now that you’ve got your basecamp equipped and comfortable, invite friends over and burn sticks together. A lot can be learned from each other around a warm campfire. You’ll quickly become the smartest woodsman around.

My basecamp is never finished. There’s always more stuff to do and things to craft to make camping in the woods fun.

Note: This week marks the fourth year anniversary of Survival Sherpa. I started writing here a few weeks before Dirt Road Girl was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. This little blog has provided much-needed clarity on our journey.

Our hearts are always encouraged by the ongoing support from each of you here. We’ve had the pleasure of personally meeting several of you and count it an honor to call you friends. Hope each of you have a merry Christmas and a self-reliant New Year!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.


Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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